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Have you checked your assumptions about student learning at the door? People in general, hold onto beliefs that are shaped by early experiences, the media, and faulty influences. The following list is a compilation of research that may surprise you. Video games, ebooks, playtime, and music are all a part of an educator’s repertoire. Read on, and be prepared to put your traditional beliefs aside as science points to innovative methods that indicate future success.
1. Playing scary and violent video games help children master their fears in real life.
Until recently, studies done with regards to children and video games usually centered on the negative impacts and consequences of prolonged use. But a study done by Cheryl K. Olson that appeared in the Review of General Psychology suggests that there are a lot of psychological benefits to video games. She recognized several social motivations for playing video games including competition, a reason to hang out and casually converse with friends, and teaching peers how to play a game. The psychological motivations for video games are even more profound. In boys who struggle with stress, fear, and anger- negative emotions that can have violent consequences- video games acted as a safe alternative for the release of pent up emotion. There were other findings as well, comprising the fun of “unreality”- experimenting with a world where natural laws are suspended- plus the fun of challenge, mastery, and playing with different identities. These findings reveal that video games can be an alternate way to release negative emotion, and help children alleviate their innate desire for risk and adventure.
2. Video games can lessen disruptive behaviors and enhance positive development in ADHD children
The Australian Journal of Educational & Developmental Psychology published a study about the use of video games to help children with ADHD. The sample of children was small, so more research is needed. But the results of this study indicated that the video game (designed to teach kids how to control their heart rate and breathing) had a significant impact on behavior. This finding flies in the face of popular remarks such as, “Video games make my child hyper,” and “ADHD is a disease that inflicts this generation because of video games.” These beliefs are not backed by scientific study, and in some cases, it is these very biases that slow down inquisitive minds that might dare to think otherwise.
Chess makes kids smart Patrick S. A lot of labs are designed so that students follow a “recipe” or list of directions that don’t exercise critical thinking skills.that they are learning the crucial necessary skills. Honestly. . a great opportunity for socialization among many different age groups and levels. an in-depth review by Justin Dillon from King’s College in London. more research is needed. but typical lab work may no longer be the way to go. There is no question that scientific curriculum needs to be enhanced in some way. as well as recognizing difficult and complex patterns. concentrate. A lot of labs are designed so that students follow a “recipe” or list of directions that don’t exercise critical thinking skills. there isn’t much negative to say about chess. McDonald. use precise thinking. a great lover of chess and the Youth Coordinator for the Ontario Chess Association. found that practical work isn’t always as effective as it may appear on the surface. In fact. but it is unwise to assume that simply because a class has a hand’s on experiment. However. compiled a series of papers and research that highlights the benefits of chess. science curriculums often have practical work or labs that teach the science concepts learned in the textbook. using other mediums like technology to master scientific principles can give students more time to reflect on important concepts.3. Practical work in science provides children little or no learning at all In an attempt to enrich learning. 4. without wasting time and resources on a poorly developed lab. especially as it relates to education. Of course. active both inductive and deductive reasoning. It is an inexpensive game. It forces students to slow down.
An English teacher found her student’s creativity in poetry expanded after working in the garden. and no matter what level you learn to play. one of the simplest and longstanding toys. and physics. to nutrition. In the Community Playthings article about the wisdom of play. Even high-tech industries like NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory take into consideration a person’s background of play when they are hiring new scientists. 6. and even English. Kids who garden show a better ability to concentrate. Even with 15 minutes of free play. Playing with blocks increases neuron count in children Schools are endangering a student’s creative intelligence when they replace all scheduled playtime with academic study. Kids who garden show a better ability to concentrate. colors. Getting in touch with the dirt and bugs. it helps children to understand that “losing” the game is as valuable as winning. Gardening improves children’s desire to learn and boosts their confidence The Royal Horticulture Society in the UK has started a campaign to bring gardening back into the school systems. • • • • • Gardening helped use up surplus energy in active kids.Teachers who are in charge of children with mental and physical disabilities can also benefit from chess. math. teach geometry. and body. or simply because learning in the outdoors is good for the mind. 5. children will use some of that time learning about mathematical and spatial principles. Gardening touches on so many different school subjects. It is a game that does not discriminate. Thousands of schools have participated and some of the findings point to gardening as a crucial learning tool for children. These are just some of the few findings. helped some young students overcome their fears. Some students learned valuable math skills as they sold their produce to the town for a profit. whether it is because they have an opportunity to engage their whole bodies in the learning process. psychologists who study play are screaming that this is the wrong move. from the science of photosynthesis. shapes. . The process of growing something from seed to fruit helps teach children responsibility and managing a living organism. researchers note that something as simple as toy blocks can have incredible impacts on a young student’s mind. patterns. Blocks. As the trend moves more towards structuring a curriculum that teaches to a standardized test. heart.
8. they learn to appreciate the pacing of words and how to speak more clearly. Music must continue to be a part of a young child’s learning environment. Though much of modern education focuses primarily on visual sight for learning. Research shows that children who engage in music from a young age have a more finely tuned ability to speak and communicate. the students who were given the toy with no specific instructions discovered the way it worked. 7. as well as several different other mechanisms that weren’t immediately obvious. Music and movement augment children’s language capabilities during the preschool years Music has a calming effect on children and adults alike. but stunts a child’s natural curiosity to discover how the world works. or to allow them to explore the object without direct instruction? The research outlined in Alison Gopnik’s article on Slate (dot) com gives us some startling facts.to teach a child how to use an object. the auditory processes are critically important for language acquisition.. When children in a controlled study were given a toy that did multiple things like squeaking. the more important music becomes. Green spaces or natural backyards elevate children’s learning through discovery . 9. However.This is because research shows that children who have ample opportunity to play and manipulate the environment creatively. when children learn nursery rhymes that are set to a steady beat. Children who engage in music from a young age have a more finely tuned ability to speak and communicate For example. play music. Psychologists are drawing the conclusion that early academic learning structured around directive teaching not only inhibits creativity. The younger the child. will be the most innovative and original thinkers as adults. Songs that are taught for the purposes of remembering routines (like cleaning up or going to bed) activate the part of the memory that is used when memorizing sight words and other rote principles. etc. the children who had a teacher instructing them on how the toy worked did not explore it further than the directions given by the adult. Teaching kids at a very early age is counterproductive to their learning What is more beneficial.
and make real-life associations with the knowledge. Research documented in Colorado University’s Journal of Children. but the type of outdoor environment is important as well. retain it. 10. Jablon and Michael Wilkinson outline the following: • • • Some prior understanding or knowledge of the material An environment that fosters questions and investigation The ability to work in a group or collaborative setting . authors and educators Judy R. An engaged child is one who is more likely to absorb information. and preserving the Earth. ponds. and Environments noted that students who were given access to green woodlands. Not only is it critical for children to have time to play outside. several activities or processes need to be present. science. the greater the invitation for discovery through curiosity. Drama and comedy in the classroom encourage children to listen and participate Teachers are constantly thinking about new and innovative ways to encourage active participation with their students. In Beyond the Journal. It became a place to learn about ecosystems. Not only did the student’s enjoy the environment more. and other natural habitats had an increase in social cooperation and creativity. but the teachers also incorporated the outdoor area into their formalized curriculum. In order to engage students. Youth. as opposed to the children who were given an asphalt yard with a jungle gym. The more natural and open the environment. gardening.How important is it for children to play and interact with the great outdoors? Does it really make a difference in the educational process? The research says yes.
social collaboration. Interest areas are different sections in the classroom that focus on a certain skillset or study. 12. students must use prior knowledge. and success. However. Just like tears or anger. In modern times. than the person or thing. This acute sensitivity to detail is one of the main reasons that architects and educators should pay careful attention to the types of spaces they are designing for classrooms. Jaclynn Shaw. academics are often taught rather than “shown”removing this type of opportunity from the educational process. the ability to engage all five senses. create links between scenes. children learned necessary survival skills by mimicking their elders. reading. One way to accomplish this is through interest areas. . and a level of independence and control. it helps foster a sense of control. of Kansas State University reports that children have four major needs while in their learning environment. survival skills. and humor It might not come as a surprise. Children who construct their own video games experience increased cognitive and social growth In a primitive society. etc. science. learning in action. and take control of their learning through trial and error. and generate new ideas and solutions in order to complete the game. Children must use logic. When the students are paired in groups and given the chance to move from area to area. drama. art. the ability to move around the space. it is a vibrancy of emotion that shows a student’s entire mind and feelings are engaged in the activity. Interest areas in the classroom promote a child’s autonomy and choice making When children catalog an experience in their minds.• • • Offering multiple choices so students can be self-directed Independent thinking Games. it is another way to create and active learning environment similar to ancient history. According to the Undergraduate Research Journal for the Human Sciences. research shows that they are more apt to remember the place or location. research outlined in the Lookstein Online Journal indicates that children show cognitive growth when they are given the task of creating their own video game. In essence. 11. It was essentially. safety. the need to feel a sense of confidence. but laughter is a great indicator of engagement. In order to develop such a game.
These skills build confidence in young students. These changes can make a big difference in the learning potential of a student suffering from Autism. However. 15. Steven Barnett. In impoverished areas. Secondly. Engaging children in planning and reflection enhance their predictive and analytic capabilities . artificial lighting. there is a higher likelihood that those experiences will shape the child’s future for years to come. Putting a desk against a wall with a bookshelf on either side can minimize distractions. and rugs to further muffle noise. and the academic and creative needs of an impressionable young child go to the bottom of the pile. parents are not able to provide their children with the optimal learning environment. Unfortunately. Ph. adding carpet on the floors and even on the walls will muffle the noise and echo of an empty concrete room. for children with ASD. floor pillows. When there are positive influences during this time. 13. Economically disadvantaged children reap long-term benefits from preschool There is no doubt that a well thought out preschool education program can provide long-term benefits for any young child. and windows Children with autism and related disorders are greatly impacted by their environment. it takes a child’s full concentration to simply interact with another student or teacher. Students do better when their work areas are tucked in a nook with walls and other makeshift boundaries sectioning off their space. more so than the average child. W. In many cases.They get to make choices. The brain of a young child is incredibly impressionable from ages 0-6. Instead. Instead. The Undergraduate Research Journal for the Human Sciences studied different areas of the classroom and found ways to reduce excess stimulation for these children. Learning. is affected by classroom acoustics. Fluorescent lighting is difficult on the eyes and can be render a child with ASD completely ineffective.D. move in the classroom.. adults struggle to find work and make ends meet. Teachers can also add curtains. and the reason why preschool is so important. A child growing up in a financially secure home may be offered an enriching environment if the mother and/or father have the resources to invest in early education initiatives at home. Another crucial necessity is natural light. so classrooms need to eliminate any unnecessary distractions. opt for large windows and skylights that allow sunlight to pour in. 14. this is not the case with the lower class. in the National Institute for Early Education Research suggests that it is the disadvantaged populations that benefit the most. and explore independently.
it forces them to evaluate what behaviors and actions are necessary to complete a task. Children are not blank slates on which adults imprint knowledge Children’s brains are far more powerful and intuitive than we ever imagined. now students are segregated according to age. props. in which children take on roles. There also must be ample time for play. It is within this context that children build the preliminary skills for advanced academic understanding. Mature make-believe play provides the most beneficial context for children’s development Do you remember playing “store” or “restaurant” when you were a child? These imaginative scenarios. when children are given a rich environment to explore. In a journal put out by the NAEYC. the results continue to point to a surprising conclusion.When you think of a classroom curriculum in action. they noted that the High/Scope Educational Research Foundation found that students who were given a chance to learn how to plan out their activities. they make the argument that play is an ever-evolving skill that children must be guided through. actions. This important skill is not only useful in everyday life. you might suppose that the teacher plans the lesson and then the children carry it out. . and collaborate with other children. But more and more. This means that the teacher is now in the primary role of teaching children how to play. Sessions that are only 10-15 minutes do not give a child the opportunity to play out the scenarios. themes. and the child’s innate creativity. the mind. When a child is brought into the process of planning and reflection. Whereas young kids used to play in multi-level age groups (perhaps in a neighborhood or in a family with a lot of children) having older peers in which to mimic and follow. 16. The classroom must allow room for these play-based scenarios. 17. When the plan does not work. educators are seeing the importance of teaching the children how to plan. and sequences necessary to really engage the senses. they naturally use scientific processes to discover the world around them. In an article written by the National Association for the Education of Young Children. as they are one of the building blocks of learning. is one of the most crucial avenues for development. performed better in language and other skills. they then must analyze why it didn’t and what must be done to get back on track. it seems that it enhances a child’s capabilities as well. As more and more research is done on the impact of early education on children.
they relied on their experience. Play-based learning shifts the focus of learning from the outcome or goal. and not the teacher’s opinion. even an influential one. When teachers have confidence in a child’s ability to learn independently. there is far less time spent on behavior management. It would seem that one of the best predictors of future academic success is built on this foundation. The educators also recognized that when children are allowed to learn through play. Young children will believe adults. This has profound implications for early education teachers. A group of teachers partook in the study and here were some of the findings.Alison Gopnik. more structure. the younger children were more influenced by a teacher’s comments regarding the discriminating group than their actual experience. Young children learn about prejudice by instruction. most kids will trust their peers or their own experience over an adult. older children by experience Science Daily released an article last March that gives educators insight into how children form opinions about discrimination and prejudice. researchers took a closer look at how teacher’s beliefs regarding early education influence the classroom environment. and more early academic intervention is not necessarily beneficial. 18. the child/teacher relationship is stronger. The push for more academics. but rather facilitators that allow children to use their natural curiosity to discover the world. the child/teacher relationship is stronger. When several different age groups of children were put into differing groups (with one group discriminating against the other). When teachers have confidence in a child’s ability to learn independently. Delivering a positive message about ethnicity and social equality is best communicated in younger ages in order to make a lasting impact. as well as parents and caregivers. professor at the University of California. to the process. . this only lasts for a short time during development. even when it contradicts their own personal experience. reported this in her research that was outlined in the September issues EdWeek’s blog. However. By 5th grade. Adults are not the “givers” of information. 19. Teachers are then able to take a more “facilitative” role and observe the student actively learning. Play-based learning increases children’s attention span In this study done by the Australian Journal of Educational and Developmental Psychology. With the older group of children. A child’s attention span is also longer.
21. . feel. look. so the child can see what worked and what didn’t. This boost of confidence activates the already-present learning mechanisms available in the brain. Rapping helps children learn the concept of place value in math The Southwest Educational Development Laboratory put out a classroom math lesson that included a rap song! It is not all that surprising that rap music helps with mathematical concepts. taste. and the cadence and rhyming of words make the song easier to remember. following his innate curiosity about how things work. The Open University’s research proves that an adult’s confidence in a child also helps motivate them when experiments fail. and helps propel them forward to discover new things in the world. you will watch as he explores the world organically. When a parent or teacher can harness the power of that curiosity. where a teacher doles out knowledge and asks the student to learn the information. providing opportunities for children to collaborate in groups. This is different from the traditional model of instruction. The Center for Development and Learning gives caregivers helpful advice about how to maximize a child’s early experiences. 22. but another learning experience. Children learn more when they initiate an activity and are actively engaged in it Curiosity is the birthplace of learning. Failure no longer becomes a negative thing. the caregiver must remain in the background. The concept is written into the lyrics and the children can learn the song. and sound. as well as offering reflection after the experience. and thus the mathematical rule. It activates the auditory system. Music is a proven method to aid learning. Reinforcing children’s capabilities as confident explorers build children’s resilience and confidence One of the most impactful moments for a child is when they understand that a caregiver or teacher believes in his/her ability to learn. Teachers can do this by standing back. and rhyming melodies are far easier to remember than a list of facts. supporting the child’s natural curiosity and offering helpful ways to explore. allowing the child to use another one of their five senses to learn. If you follow a two-year-old around for even a couple of hours. To give a child a chance to initiate learning. The steady rhythm.20. it is like riding a wave that already has momentum. One of the key points centers on this foundation of curiosity. Classical music has been shown to help concentration.
Children behave better when parents are involved in their education at home and at school When a parent sends a child on the bus to school. Speaking a loud activates another of the five senses. it doesn’t mean that all learning is pushed to the school. Parents can help their children with homework. extra enrichment activities. and can possibly catch minute details that the eyes keep missing when the child looks over the problem again and again. When parents are active in their child’s education. The NYU Child Student Center writes about parents as the key ingredient to a successful school career.The Council for Exceptional Children incorporated the idea of self-talk in their article about student learning. If a student is working on a math problem or difficult concept. hearing. Learning continues even after school is done. Children who are encouraged to talk to themselves aloud have increased probability of learning Have you ever stood in front of a mirror and rehearsed a presentation or important conversation you were about to have? Science proves this is a helpful method of learning and selfanalysis. If a child reads their report or paragraph out loud. . self-talk can help with reasoning and logic. 24. reading. Parents are a crucial component to their child’s success. This concept also works with writing. this minimizes emotional disturbances and other negative situations that can impair the educational process.23. as well as be informed of school behavior problems or social situations that need attending. the ear is better able to pick up on awkward phrasing than simply using the eyes.
and ultimately more success. Children who use electronic books show more cooperation and retain more information As technology speeds ahead. But when teachers add games to the curriculum. The use of the ebook also enhanced group cooperation and gave the students more opportunity to interact. or silly phrases to start a lesson. More kids were able to articulate positive emotions surrounding math. According to Leicha Bragg’s research from Deakin University. put out an article that highlights this fact. Laughter not only increases a child’s capacity to remember the humor. the learning environment and classroom is rapidly changing. In a Scroll Essay called The Effects of Electronic Books Designed for Children in Education. students who used e-books with sound effects. but it also gives a feeling of security and contentment. 27. and curriculum specialists. you can probably easily remember what triggered it. and exams. and heart. games.25. speakers. as more and more texts are available online and in ebook format. she noted that game playing helped change children’s perspective on the subject of math. narration. and video were able to find and recite more information than the children who used a traditional printed text. more motivation. They note that laughter not only increases a child’s capacity to remember the humor. . Game playing can develop a positive attitude towards mathematics for children Mathematics can easily become a tedious and dry subject. Pam Schiller and Clarissa A. as well as an increase in confidence about different concepts. It is important that teachers use funny songs. but it also gives a feeling of security and contentment. are going through a digital overhaul. This positive beginning sets up the lesson for success. Books especially. mind. 26. Willis. Children who participate in laughing activities experience increase in memory retention Do you remember the last time you had a good belly laugh? If you are fortunate enough to have laughter as part of your everyday life. It seemed that playing math games helped to alleviate the tediousness of repetitive problem solving. Laughter is evidence of an engaged body. There was more energy for math. music. student’s attitudes about math change dramatically. full of repetitive problems. formulas. increasing the likelihood that you are able to recall what triggered the positive emotion. both PhD authors.
Though this is the norm. whereas girls are more intuitive and relational as they play. and the association of sounds that go along with them. teen. research still notes that boys are drawn more to exploration. Phonemic awareness and alphabet recognition increase children’s chances of reading achievement As soon as a child is two years old. numbers. Boys engage more in exploratory play while girls engage more in dramatic play Browse the aisle of a toy store. Getting in rhythms helps children grasp fractions . while encouraging them to try out methods that they may not naturally be comfortable with. The Undergraduate Research Journal for the Human Sciences put out an article on gender differences that converged on the same bottom line. a lifetime of literary frustration is sure to result. 30. but two stand out as most important. These pre-reading skills are an early indicator of a child’s ability to read and enjoy literature as a child.In essence. make room for each gender to play as they are naturally wired. the e-book was more conducive to group activity than individual private reading. Even though reading is a visual skill. it is important to note that teachers shouldn’t automatically assume that each gender isn’t capable of playing in the other way. 28. as well as alphabet recognition. 29. Although there is benefit to exposing both boys and girls to a wide variety of toys. Boys tend to be more assertive in their interactions and games. there are a lot of pre-reading skills that are necessary for literacy. and most people can identify toys that are marketed towards girls versus boys. When a child doesn’t make these connections. According to Scholastic Research and Results. Instructors should acknowledge these differences. and adult. they can begin to recognize letters. phonemic awareness (understanding the sound a letter makes). activating the ear to recognize the different sounds of each letter is the foundation on which reading is built. and girls are drawn more to dramatic play.
etc. In an article from the SF State News. creativity and even higher IQ. drumming out a beat. In fact. notations. Perhaps this explains why some of the brightest minds in the world are born daydreamers – Einstein being a prime example. that was a part of their life. sixteenths. But there seems to be a connection between music and fractions that is proving to be beneficial. 31. “I think you need time to daydream. Daydreaming boosts brains [Open Colleges' Addition] Daydreaming is often seen as wasting time and sometimes a lack of the ability to focus. and students have a visual way to begin placing fractions in context. and chanting help students understand the concept of fractions. increased resolve. it is a foundational mathematical principle that is necessary for future advanced mathematics. Among its many benefits. In music theory. The results show that students who use music and rhythm to teach fractions score notably higher on math exams that those that don’t. However. and begin clapping your way to a better understanding of fractions. Elizabeth Blackburn. said. successful scientists who’ve really advanced things. to let your imagination take you where it can … Just do that some of the time. notes are identified by halves.” . But recent research found the opposite is true. educators have noticed that clapping.Fractions aren’t the easiest concept for a child to learn. because I’ve noticed [that] among the creative. Australia’s first female Nobel prize winner. So get out your drums and your hands. eighths. daydreaming has been associated with longer attention span.
This is a cross-post from our content partners at the Open Colleges Newsroom http://edudemic.com/2012/12/30-surprising-and-controversial-ways-students-learn/ .
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